Contrivance #6: Public Fountains

A few months ago, I got a text from a friend in my neighborhood.

“Bob and I are going to splash around in the public fountain. U in?” she wrote.

I texted back. “I wouldn’t step foot in those syringe-filled waters if you paid me.”

Obviously there probably aren’t fresh needles festering in the fountain in my neighborhood. But seriously, who wants to splash around in a public fountain? I guarantee you that people pee in there. Guarantee it.

And yet as noted by alert reader Sarah, people splash around in public fountains in movies all the time. I think they actually prefer it to sprinklers, fire hydrants, and backyard pools because they look better on film. If you’re transcendently happy in the movies, odds are you’ll end up in a public fountain. If you’re clumsy in a movie, chances are you’ll end up falling into a fountain in a mall. And if you get in fight in the movies, especially in England, part of the fight will take place in a fountain (see every Hugh Grant movie ever made).

I would say that people don’t step foot in fountains in real life, but as my friend’s text indicates, clearly people do. But I think this is something people do because of the movies. Movies have taught us that public fountains are good places to rejoice, fall, and fight. Life imitates art.

Have you ever willingly entered a public fountain? If so, please indicate the severity of the toe fungus that you developed immediately afterwards (on a scale from 1-10).

18 thoughts on “Contrivance #6: Public Fountains”

  1. Sadly, I have done this. I was in high school. It was a fountain on the Iowa State University campus. I just splashed around in the waist deep water, thankfully I wasn’t dumb enough to dunk my head in or anything. Afterward me and my friends smelled sooooooooo bad. It was nasty. As I now know, plenty of drunk college kids pee in that fountain. I cringe whenever I see people even dipping their toes in public fountains.

  2. What about The Surprise College Roommate? Every show I’ve ever seen try to make the transition from high school to college does the thing where one of the main characters walks into the room and meets their “wacky” new roommate who is sometimes a member of the opposite sex.

    Do you know anyone this has happened to? First off, don’t most people try to pick their roommate? And even if they don’t, don’t they at least make some sort of contact before walking in the door?

    • Brad–You need to start a blog about these.

      I’d also say that in movies, 99% of the time, the roommate is in the room when the protagonist arrives. In real life it’s 50%.

    • Based on my freshman dorm roommates (n=3), I’d be hard pressed to believe there are any roommates who AREN’T wacky strangers. Oddly-dressed, drug-experimenting daughter of a millionaire? Yep. Sorority-pledging plump blonde with collections of Beanie Babies and of porn? Yep. Immigrant from Mexico whose parents want her to be a pharmacist but deep down she yearns to be a professional belly dancer? For sure.

      What a drab dorm life you must have led if your roommate was (a) pre-selected, and (b) not decisively weird.

      Back on topic, one night on campus, all 4 of us went splashing around in the fountain for roommate bonding time. Hugh Grant was not in attendance. T-Mac had not peed there. It was delightful.

      • Sarah –

        I take great offense to your labeling of my dorm life as “drab”. Yes, I did select my roommate, but he ended up being known as “Nakedman” (one word) throughout the dorm.

        My fellow dorm residents and I also made a Mario Kart soundtrack and did horrible things to each other with phone books.

        Also, we jousted.

        Please recant your assertion that my life was drab.

  3. Public fountains are pretty disgusting! I can personally vouch for the fact that most public fountains within walking distance of bars I frequent have in fact been peed in. Disgusting.

  4. There is one benefit to fountains being near bars and therefore, drunk people. It was tradition at our college to take a dip in the campus fountain once before graduation. As I was frolicking in said fountain the night before graduation, I discovered a $20 bill. My guess is some drunk guy (I have to assume it was a guy), in his drunkeness, had thought it was a wishing well and since he didn’t have any loose change, he tossed in a $20 bill. I felt bad for only a minute after I swiped the cash, I just hoped it didn’t mean his wish wouldn’t come true 🙂


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